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LGBTQ history takes centre stage at National Trust's Heritage Open Days 2017

People's Postcode Lottery players have been helping the National Trust in its mission to care for our heritage since 2013. To date, players have provided £725,000 in funding, supporting a range of fantastic projects.

The National Trust is proud to manage Heritage Open Days, England's biggest free festival of history and culture. Every September, Heritage Open Days invite local people to discover the hidden history on their doorstep. This year the festival takes place between 7th and 10th September.

Thanks to funding from players, the 2017 open days will host a series of newly-commissioned events commemorating LGBTQ heritage. These community-focused arts projects are known as the 'Unsung Stories'. The Unsung Stories tell four diverse tales of bravery, creativity, defiance and love.

Annie Reilly, Manager of Heritage Open Days, said, "These stories are the type of under-explored and hidden histories that make Heritage Open Days such a unique festival. The support of players of People's Postcode Lottery has made it possible for us to frame these stories in truly original, and innovative ways."

The Unsung Stories programme includes:

  • The Turing Trial: Regina v Turing & Murray - this year marks the 65th anniversary of the trial of Alan Turing, mathematician, codebreaker and pioneer of computer science. It offers visitors the chance to experience the trial in the Knutsford courtroom where it originally took place. The play will also include virtual reality elements, enabling visitors to explore different viewpoints of the trial.
  • Joe Meek: 304 Holloway Road - The story of sixties songwriter and producing maestro Joe Meek is one of spectacular but short-lived success. A downward trajectory followed which ended in murder and suicide. Artist Julie Rose Bower will create a trail around Holloway Road, where Meek was based. The route ends at Meek's house, with live performance and digital projections on his former home.
  • Gilbert & Gordon: Then All The World Could See How in Love We Are - Theatre performance collective KILN tells the story of a secret love between two soldiers in World War II. Their affair was only revealed when love letters were discovered. Visitors will be encouraged to write their own love letters, which will feed a memorial flame. After the closing ceremony, these ashes will be converted into a commemorative diamond, to be exhibited at Oswestry Museum.
  • From Wivenhoe, With Love: The life and times of Richard Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller - The love affair between renowned landscape painter Denis Wirth-Miller and illustrator Richard Chopping lasted for an extraordinary 71 years. Their lives and love will be celebrated in new performances, talks and workshops.

Alongside these events, Heritage Open Days has hundreds of highlights, including opening up England's first mosque, revealing hidden Saltaire Tunnels in Bradford, offering a peak behind the scenes at Gieves and Hawkes - tailors by Royal Warrant to the Royal Family - and discovering backstage secrets of cinemas, theatres and museums across the country. Over 5,000 events will be taking place, with every single one free of charge.

To find out more about the hidden places and special events you can enjoy throughout the festival, please visit the Heritage Open Days website.

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Heritage Open Days is England's biggest festival of history (Image courtesy of Chris Lacey)
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